Memorable Autumn in Perth, Western Australia 澳洲柏斯春之旅

It was a long story before making this crucial decision but what I could recap was we never thought of this destination for our holidays coz of its expensive air fare in common. After several attempts browsing on AirAsia’s madness midnight promo sales in November 2009, I had never got a chance to complete my search. In the next morning, I thought I should give it a try again and Perth caught me in my eyes for just only RM531 per pax return including all taxes, baggages fee and on board meals! With limited time of discussion, I booked the flight tickets on behalf without hesitation. Unbelievable deal huh!

Obviously, I did most of the major research and info about Perth for months and I was tiring, excited and nervous at the same time. However, we only concluded our itinerary for day tours and car rental in Perth in last minute booking i.e. 1 week before departure. Phew!

25th May 2010 at 8.30pm, this was the day where we began our holidays for this year. It was our first time to Perth, Western Australia. Having accompanied with my 3 best friends, do helped me eliminate all the worries I had about traveling aboard. At 11.50pm, our AirAsia X Airbus A330 plane departed from LCCT, Kuala Lumpur and took us 5 and the ½ hours to arrive Perth International Airport at 5.30am local time. Although it was overnight flight, the flight experience was unpleasant one due to its narrow seats allocation and I was caught in the cold. What a day in cabin!

Landed after a long journey flight in AirAsia X A330.

Upon arriving at arrival hall, Felicia, Augustine and Tim (AK’s hometown buddies) were already there welcoming us. It’s so kind of them. Walking out from the terminal building, the skies were still dim with windy temperature of 10 degree Celsius. Wasn’t it cold for us! After collecting our rented Ford Telstar sedan car at AU$282.84 with fuel pre-purchase for 4 days from parking bay, we were heading to our first breakfast in Perth at McCafe. In Perth or any other cities in Australia, the speed limit must be aware of and safety belts are always being fastened whenever in the car.

Warm welcome at meeting point and exterior of Perth International Airport.

Breakfast at McCafe in suburban Perth.

Since it’s still early to hotel check-in, Tim guided us to central city area while Felicia and Augustine head back to University for their assignments. Throughout the journey, there are many species of trees, beautiful mansion with wide pathway and lawn yard can be widely seen almost everywhere in Perth which I would love to own. Towards the city center, we can see more and more people and traffic on the roads. After few traffic lights crossing, we lost Tim in the mid way but we managed to get around courtesy of Felicia’s GPS system.

Our first stop was to the most popular visitor destination in Western Australia and Perth has the largest inner city park in the world; Kings Park and Botanic Garden, bigger than even New Yorks Central Park which covers about 400 hectares of land with its remarkable expanses of unique bush land, tranquil parkland and botanic garden.

Up up and the way!

Kings Park and Botanic Garden overlooks the Swan River and Darling Range and showcases an outstanding collection of Western Australia flora. It is a popular place for picnics, pleasant walks, cultural and ceremonial events. Nearly two thirds of the Park is natural bush land containing 319 species of native plants and around 80 bird species. The balance of the Park is made up of superbly cultivated gardens and open recreational areas. There are a lot of monuments and memorial statues being built around the park as well. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to go through one by one. What a shame huh.

Some memorials throughout the park.

The combination of human and the trees.

Opps... Malaysia's next top model in actions.

We enjoyed a walk along one of the charming walk trails where we find this is truly a place of inspiration, relaxation, recreation and wonder. There's Lotterywest Federation Walkway where you can take a walk in the tree top walkway with the spectacular views that can be seen along the walkway. You won’t be able to discover the entire park in just few hours as it is very huge and we only managed to visit about quarter of this majestically beautiful garden. I think it probably needs at least a day or two to fully explore it in relaxation manner. Too bad we did not want spending too much time by doing so as we have next programme following up. For our sight seeing, we have had enough for this moment.

Together we stand and Perth City skyline from Kings Park.

Posing by the Swan River.

 We are just too cute!

It's a wonderful day.

Tree top walkway.

The entrance of Kings Park and Botanic Garden.

About noon, it is the time for us to leave for hotel check-in at Sullivans Hotel. Apparently this hotel is situated just 10 minutes drive from the park but we took a de tour of nearly 45 minutes to figure out the confusion of city map and GPS system. The hotel is an old 5-storey building and rather small but cozy place with free parking bay provided. Initially, we had pre-book online this hotel for our stay in Perth but after getting permission from Felicia who then invited us to stay at her new house, we accommodated in this hotel just for first 2 days.

Our hotel’s room so called Family Standard Room at AU$109/room per night without breakfast (Room no. 111) which provides double and twin beds, it's smaller than we expected but comfortable. It was our first time ever to share a room together. How exciting was that eh? We kept our modest and made promises not to peep at each other when either one of us taking our bath, LOL. Well, there's nothing we can do about it as this is the cheapest hotel category I can search for in Perth City, so we just have to trust each other since we’ve being best travel partner for long time. Hey, we're Asian and we all are not that open minded yet, okay but I am ha! There is also an outdoor swimming pool at first floor but we didn’t have time either we were too early or too late to pay a visit. Imagine how busy we were!

Family Standard Room in Sullivans Hotel. 

A bit old but clean and comfortable.

The room has all the amenities that we had in our basic stay at home. After keeping our luggages in our room and quick shower for the girls, we head out of the hotel to have our first sight seeing around the city. On weekdays, most shops and restaurants close between 5pm - 6pm just like office operating hours, so we spent the entire afternoon in Harbour Town, the home of outlet shopping centre, where you can find various branded outfits at all the best prices (for the girls perhaps). Honestly, goods selling here are quite expensive for me but its worth to buy unless something special to you. Happy for the girls who managed to grab some stuff in here. Woops!

Ice-cream and breads' shops at Harbour Town.

That was a tiring day being few hours of hanging out in here. We took a break for ice-cream while waiting for discounted moment at bread shop for our breakfast tomorrow. Since it was end of autumn season, the sky turns dark much earlier at about 5.45pm. We had a bit of a culture shock as the streets and main roads look deserted after sun sets. We can see people leaving their buildings by lightening up their offices making the beauty of CBD (Center Business District) at night. The evening was quite windy, we drove towards Northbridge where most of the nightlife zone is, hoping to find a nice restaurant where we can have our dinner.

Northbridge and China Town.

Tim who seems to be our local tour guide recommended Chinese cuisine in China Town where we had an extra 2 inches tummy and delicious meals for the day.

Tempting chinese dishes, just can’t resist with free flow of rice.

After a heavy meal, we headed back to Central City to snap some pictures at Bell Tower before moving to Kings Park again for magnificent night view over Perth City, at the same time trying to digest our bulging stomach there.

Colourful Bell Tower at night.

We walked and welcome the cool breeze throughout the night but we couldn’t stay too long as cold windy weather makes us freezing. That called it a day on our 1st day sighting. We love our hot shower and warm bed in hotel later on!

Perth City night lights taken from Kings Park. 

We woke up at 6.00am in the next morning and all set for our 1st full day Pinnacles tour operated by Australian Pacific Touring (APT) at AUS155/pax. As Pinnacles Desert is a must see for visitors to Perth, the distance took us 245km one way from Perth requires full day to drive up and back allowing stopover in several places or so to look around. Pick up van came in promptly at 7.00am but the weather seemed not encouraging, drizzle with morning clouds along the journey. We still excited being heard so much about this unique geological formation going to be. We then meet up with other visitors somewhere in the City and transferred to a 25-seater 4WD truck.

Meeting Koala and feeding Kangaroos in person. 

Our first stop was Caversham Wildlife Park where we have a photograph taken with koalas, wombat and hand feed the kangaroos up close and personal while experience this amazing Australian native wildlife collection of animals in natural bush land.

Cuddly Koala and Wombat.

Jeff with us in Caversham Wildlife Park.

Later, we traveled all the way to Cervantes, gateway to the Pinnacles. We had our terrible lunch in an isolated restaurant (last stop for drinks, food etc) where all foods served were pre-prepare. No wonder the food was so ‘cold and dry’ for us yet tasteless, perhaps the worst I ever had!

Don't let the look tease you! It's not what you think.

After lunch near Cervantes, we continued on to Namburg National Park for the Pinnacles Desert limestone pillars. This is striking and eerie, a miracle of nature that is so wonderful to see. Our tour guide, Stuart explained the forces of nature that shaped the Pinnacles Desert, with ample time given to wander through the limestone spires and we have the opportunity of capturing it all on camera. It was amazing experience seeing it all in our own eyes.

Pinnacles Desert Discovery.

Leaving the Pinnacles we partly retrace our steps, stopping at several places where there was time for a short break. The journey to Lancelin was tiring by seeing never ending straight bumpy bush tracks after off the premix roads for nearly 2 hours. Credit goes to tour guide who spotted kangaroos, emus, eagles, cows, sheep etc for us as we bounce down the track toward the majestic pure white Lancelin sand dunes. This place looks ghostly township when we get there but who cares when our 4 wheel drive action over the sand dunes is ready to begin. These massive dunes are among the largest in the world and our truck gave us several thrilling rides like we have never experienced before.

Our 4WD ready for actions.

Out onto the dunes, a few heart stopping rides down steep sides of these huge sand waves in our 4WD truck. Later its time for some sand surfing, which was so much fun. Standing on the peak of sand dunes was really windy but without wearing our sunglasses on, our eyes were collided with sand waves and its hurt. We saw a panoramic outlook over sand hills and coastline while we surfed our way down the dunes falling over and getting sand in every nook and cranny.

Strong wind at the peak of sand dunes. 

We were all done and tired out climbing back up a steep sand dune after few rides. Unfortunately, I cut my thumb during my first trial and that’s all I did for sand boarding. There's no snow in Western Australia, but we had some of the best sand boarding in the world. Ha! 

Enjoyment of sand boarding.
About 5.30pm, we make our way off the dunes and straight back to the city in tiring mood. Getting back to hotel by 4WD truck about 7.30pm was hungry and exhausted. Not to waste any time, we drove to Northbridge where the only place we could look for variety foods in the evening. Well, this time, we had Italian food at Il Padrino Caffe where we have opportunity to meet the owner and master chef, Nunzio Nici who has been voted for world’s best pizza maker. After a long day, we had enough for today and should get some good rest for tomorrow’s journey.

Owner of Il Padrino Caffe, Nunzio Nici - the best pizzamaker in the world.

3rd day in Perth, apparently I hate waking up so early in the morning. By now I noticed that the only thing that I am most looking forward is having beautiful day tour scheduled to depart for Margaret River Winery Tour operated by Western Travel Bug at AU$150/pax.

After staying here for 2 nights, we realized this hotel is strategic located and worth for money. Hotel's cleaner came for house keeping everyday and make our room looks fresh with new towels. It’s also located in the city area about 10 minutes drive away from Perth CBD area. Anyway, we’d got to check out and retain our luggages in our car booth before shifting to Felicia’s house later tonight.

The weather was really good. In this day trip, Felicia managed to join us as early as 6.30am. John, who is funny and sportive enough to be our tour guide this round. He kept us busy by briefing us those local attractions along the journey to complimentary stop in Mandurah where a place you can find richest township in Western Australia. We were so lucky spotted a dolphin appearing on sea surface near the shore.
Morning tea break by the lake.

Jump of delight.

We then stopover at a huge lake known as Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary for morning tea in picnic style before make our way to Busselton for the famous 140-year-old Busselton Jetty, measured at 1.841 kilometres and the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the jetty is currently undergoing a refurbishment work surrounding and we can’t access to Interpretive Centre and railway track.

Pretty posses at Busselton Jetty.

Our next stop was Happs Vineyard in Dunsborough Estate, Margaret River Wine Region the largest range of wines and finest found in Western Australia. Before the trip, the girls were telling not intended to buy any of those wines, but after tasted several range of wines, now they should know why Australia produce the most attractive wines in this part of the world (yeah… each of us bought one except me).

Wine tasting at Happs, Margaret River.

Little House on the Prairie.

We continue our route to Canal Rocks before lunch break in Margaret River. It's already 1.45pm so we were left with no choice but to have fast food as our lunch in here. Among the fast food joint, we had chosen Subway. It tastes as yummy as it looks!

John, being our photographer at Canal Rocks.

After a quick lunch, there was a short free time to explore the fascinating township of Margaret River. We only managed to drop by a souvenirs shop and we were really tempted to go for shopping else where but we were told running out of time.

Margaret River township and lunch at Subway.
We proceed to popular store in Cowaramup, Candy Cow where offers wickedly sweet treats like old fashioned lollies, fine fudge, nougat, honeycomb and many other delicious sweet goodies and merchandise are available here.
House of sweet goodies, Candy Cow.
Followed by visiting Dairy Company was the next stop for awards winning cheese and yoghurts produced at Margaret River. All of these delectable cheeses and a variety of yoghurts are available for free tasting. It’s disappointed that they don’t allow us to take any pictures inside the shop. It’s rather a small shop hence we were just hanging there the shortest time.

Say "cheeseee..."

About to leave this place, Felicia received a phone call from Augustine that his car was being bang from the back by someone at freeway in Perth. The atmosphere turns uneasy and nervous in sudden. Later on the journey back to Perth, we were told everything was under control and no body gets injured.

Our last stop was Chocolate Company, award-winning chocolate products since 1999. This chocolate factory provides a fascinating insight into the world of chocolate, with free chocolate tasting, interactive displays, viewing windows to watch the chocolate products being made. Information and merchandise are available on all aspects of chocolate, plus factory sells a mouth-watering range of chocolate bars, chocolate coated delights, hand made truffles, novelty chocolates, ice-creams, chocolate milk and a variety of chocolate cakes and deserts. Of coz we won’t miss this opportunity to swipe those chocolates for our friends in KL.  

Shopping at chocolate factory and farewell to John.

After drop off in hotel about 7pm, we collected our car and drove to Northbridge again to meet up Augustine and Tim. As mentioned earlier, Felicia, Augustine and Tim always brought us out for a nice meal every night. This time, we’d chosen Outback Jacks Bar & Grill for our dinner tonight. We had ordered different dishes (can’t remember the name of the dishes), and each of us sharing some portion of the meals as the serving were quite large but the taste was not delicious as we expected. After filled up our stomach, we switching to sleepy mood already and that’s enough activities for today.

Chill-out at Outback Jacks Bar & Grill.

Felicia then leading us to her new house (forgotten the name of her place) for overnight. The place is a new development township and rather quiet at night. Basically all houses built here are single storey but with large build up area. Surprisingly we were feeling much colder than in Perth even inside the house, perhaps the house is too big and yet to be furnished. We rather stay inside our guest room gossiping with the heater on. Guess what, we were wearing gloves, stockings, long sleeve wool pajamas and wrapping ourselves for bed, imagine how weak we were!

It was the 4th day in here. I was amazed at myself for still having the energy to go to travel after three tiring days and having four nights lack of sleep. But I was really looking forward to have this final full day to historic Fremantle at our own leisure. It was a very nice sunny weather. We woke up late about 8am but idling till 10am due to arrangement of car accident issue. Our first destination was Fremantle Markets where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, crafts, variety of foods, funny stuff, cheaper souvenir and gift shops etc (open Fridays to Sundays). It just looks like Central Market in KL.

Fremantle market and Fremantle prison.

Throughout the road trip, I had enjoyed looking at the heritage buildings' architectures and shops along the way. The air and the environment in Fremantle are so clean has made it very conducive for people to enjoy outdoors activities there. I prefer to walk so that we can enjoy the beautiful scenery but my friends seem do not want to go further. Sigh... I hoped you guys were more adventurous.
Fremantle City and its heritage surrounding. 

We drove our car to Fremantle's Fishing Boat Harbour to meet Augustine and Tim for lunch at famous Cicerello’s which claiming WA’s no. 1 fish and chips. Established since 1903, the name has meant not only the best fish and chips in a great location in the heart of Australia’s largest fishing boat harbour, but also freshly caught seafood including oysters, mussels, crabs and crayfish, enjoyed with beer, wine or champagne at the waters edge. The food was delicious indeed and the portion was too big for us. We can't even finish our chips, too greedy perhaps.

 Hanging out at Cicerello's, WA's No. 1 Fish n Chips.

Some highlights at Fishing Boat Harbour.

Picture on the right was meant for my colleagues.

Later on, we stopped at E Shed Markets in Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour. E Shed Markets has a large variety of market products and souvenirs, a selection of local fine art work, crafts, fresh produce stalls, food court etc. We've tried to spend our monies for final shopping out there before moving to Round House, the oldest remaining building in Western Australia. It was built in 1830 and we can see many limousines and newly wed having their outdoor wedding pictures taken out there. Not quite sure why but this building was used as a police lock-up from 1857 to 1900, how bizarre!

Some random shots at Round House and the railway crossing.

After walking and sight seeing, we hang out in DÔME Cafѐ at Cappuccino Strip for a coffee break and sharing a cheese cake, it was awesome. Intially we determined not to have any familiar coffee outlets as there are lots of them back home which in franchise basis but how could we missed the very first DÔME in the world and world's finest coffees originated in Perth, Western Australia. It would be lovely if we could sit back by the footpath under the sun outside and enjoy our drinks but the day was late and freezing. I would like to just skip my busy day and sit down at one of the coffee shop, buy myself a cup of local coffee while enjoying a fresh brownie, looking at the evening scenery of local blitz. But of course this is just a wishful dream that can't be made a reality while I am there for a short holiday purposes.

Enjoying the very first Australian owned DÔME cafѐ in the world.

The night was late, we just skipped our grand dinner as we normally practised and we straight headed back home. It was tiring day as well. I took one last look around, trying to capture and remember every detail I had experienced, vowing to keep it as memories not to be forgotten. Later that night, Felicia, Augustine and Tim have prepared for us home made instant noodles for our farewell dinner. You bet we were hungry!

Casual moment for dinner at Felicia's house.

30th May, Geez... I don’t like this moment. We woke up very early in the morning about 3.00am despite that we have a flight to catch. I wish to have an afternoon flight back to KL so I have about half a day more to enjoy my last day sight seeing in Perth. Did not feel like going home yet during that time.

When we proceed to check-in counter, there was only one lane towards few counters and the queue was very long. I guess everyone was impatient as counters moving extremely slow and we can hear few boarding announcements on our flight, making us more nervous but they just don’t border. We hurriedly ran over to departure gate after checking in by passing through several security checks. We never noticed we got to fill up departure form and we stuck again at immigration counter. Luckily we boarded into the plane just on time where most of the seats being filled up with passengers.

Hard to leave... they are all wonderful people.

At this time, gosh! I realized my camera was left behind at immigration counter. I was so panic and trying to get down the plane with AK for a quick search but denied by the crew. What they could offer was they trying to contact the ground staff for the search but no promise. I can read my friends’ faces turn dull and worries. Thanks God when I saw a stewardess holding my camera walking towards our seats after waited for 10-15 minutes desperately. Yes! They found it back! It was terrible feeling and I thought I would never get back my camera, most importantly our memories in Perth under this circumstances. What a tragic! Another friendly reminder is that never go for AirAsia’s in flight international meals, don’t believe? Scroll down for the pictures evidence.

International meal with Smokey BBQ Chicken and Spaghetti Chicken Meatballs.

Well, time flies, it’s coming to the end of our holidays. People have said that Perth is a sleepy and super boring city, but when we got there it blew my mind. Perth is a beautiful place that everyone should visit. It would be great if our trip can extend for another few days, perhaps next time. I was very tired later then but can't leave my work behind and I wished I don't have to go to work the next day. We reached back home about 2.30pm. I would really love to come back here for a visit again to fully experience it if I had the opportunity in the future. Good bye Perth!

Special thanks to Felicia, Augustine and Tim for their hospitality throughout our stay in Perth although they were busy with their studies and works. Appreciation goes to WSL, PSY and AK for their patient and accompany to make this trip happened. I will remember every scenery and joy together and I’m sure we will be somewhere again some days for unfinished journey. See ya!